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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Court Decisions Affect Casey Anthony Case
Aired January 8, 2009 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, bombshell developments in the Casey Anthony case. A judge orders Caylee`s mom into court.
For the first time since October 15, Casey Marie Anthony makes a public appearance in just one of two crucial hearings today that could make or break the murder trial of the woman charged with killing little Caylee.
And one judge issues a bizarre ruling ordering Casey to write down answers with a pen and paper to tough questions from the woman suing her. That woman claims Casey ruined her life by linking her to the child`s abduction.
Then the fight to control gruesome images of the child`s skeleton. Could these ghoulish photos end up in the hands of the highest bidder? We`ll take your calls.
Plus, the latest in the horrific story of the Ohio toddler forced to witness the unimaginable. His mom shot dead while valiantly protecting him from a man cops say is a demented sexual predator. Police have accused him of the unthinkable: sexually assaulting this boy while his mother looked on. Should prosecutors seek the death penalty? But more important, how can the boy recover from a tragedy like this?
ISSUES starts now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tonight, breaking news. A stunning turn of events and brand-new video in the Caylee Anthony murder case as the mother accused of murdering her child is suddenly hauled into court.
Just hours ago, Casey Anthony shuffled into an Orange County, Florida, courtroom. It was a surprise demand made by prosecutors and executed by the judge. We last saw the woman accused of murdering her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, almost three months ago when she was formally charged in October. Today she struggled to raise her shackled right hand as she was sworn in by Judge Stan Strickland.
The burning question, why did prosecutors want Casey there? I will ask my expert panel in just moments.
Today`s hearing was a battle over images of little Caylee`s body. Prosecutors worry the defense will leak or sell photos, x-rays, and other evidence. The judge, finally striking a compromise, decided to allow the defense team to have access via a secure Web site and password, but could that get hacked?
Early this afternoon, in another courtroom, the issue: can Zenaida Gonzalez drill Casey for her defamation suit? Here is the judge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE JOSE R. RODRIGUEZ, ORANGE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: At this point, the court will not allow the deposition to take place. The court will allow interrogatories, questions in writing, to be posed to Ms. Anthony if that is what is desired. However, I am not requiring Ms. Gonzalez, nor her team, to propound those interrogatories if they believe that they may wish to wait an appropriate time to request the taking of depositions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Zenaida Gonzalez says her name was tarnished and her life ruined after Casey accused a woman by the same name of being little Caylee`s kidnapper. It looks like she will get answers, but will they be the paper they`re written on?
So much to talk about tonight. As always, you are part of the program. The lines are open at 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.
A fantastic panel joining me right now. Ashleigh Banfield, anchor of "In Session"; Drew Findling, criminal defense attorney; Judge Jeanine Pirro, former district attorney and host of "The Judge Jeanine Pirro Show"; Tony Lovitz (ph), child and family psychologist; and Rozzie Franco from WFLA-AM 540.
Rozzie, you were at today`s second hearing when the judge suddenly demanded to see Casey. Paint a picture of the drama that went down in that courtroom. It really certainly looked very dramatic watching on TV.
ROZZIE FRANCO, WFLA-AM: I got to tell you, Judge Stan Strickland wasn`t going to have it any other way. Prosecutors said they wanted Casey out there because they didn`t want to drop the ball. Just in case she was convicted, she would not have an opportunity to have any appeal after any conviction.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But what was it like? What was it -- was it shocking when suddenly he said, "I want to see Casey? Bring her in here"? What was the ripple in the courtroom? Because I`ve been in courtrooms, in situations like that, where it was kind of like a gasp.
FRANCO: Sure, absolutely. Everyone was like, wow. We haven`t seen this girl in three months. And now they`re demanding her to come out and actually sit here and go through this process.
I mean, she`s sitting there in the courtroom. And she knows that there are x-rays and there are photos of her 3-year-old daughter`s remains there. And that`s what they`re talking about. And she has to go through that process.
When Judge Stan Strickland said that, everyone was just sort of awaiting her. And we got the same reaction from Casey Anthony that we`ve gotten from day one. She was...
FRANCO: She was stoic.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Totally stoic. And I want you to take a look at the video of Casey in court, interacting with her attorney, Jose Baez. As the court session winds down. Watch carefully. It`s pretty fascinating, because she starts smiling, even though she was stone-faced earlier through the entire proceeding. Take a look at her. There she is. She`s smiling. And she has a very, very friendly kind of knowing -- you know, even flirty. I`m not suggesting anything untoward, but it`s odd that she has this kind of happiness as she talks to her lawyer.
Ashleigh Banfield, you`ve been in court many, many times during moments like this. What do you make of her behavior?
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, HOST, "IN SESSION": You always feel as though the first time any defendant facing extraordinarily serious charges, the first time he or she smiles, it`s unthinkable. But then you`ve got to put yourself in their shoes. That attorney, Jose Baez, may have just said to her, "It`s OK, dear. I`m going to make this all right. Do not worry," and that`s a relief.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, then he`d be lying to her.
BANFIELD: Well, depends on what they were talking about. And the truth is, we don`t know. We just don`t know what they were talking about. And if we can just grant this person the moment of relief or whatever it was she might have been smiling about, I`m not ready to indict her over that. She`s been living a pretty lousy life up until now. Maybe unjustifiably so. But you have no idea what those two were talking about, so we can`t -- we can`t take a guess.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Tony -- go ahead.
FRANCO: If I can chime in here for just a second, I got to tell you, you know, when Baez went in to get her, the first and second time, he said -- the first time he says, "I got to go get my girl."
FRANCO: The second time, he said, "I got to go get my girl." Yes, he made these statements.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: In court?
FRANCO: No. No, not in court. As he was walking in to get her from jail. This is the first and second time that she was released.
FRANCO: So when you elude to that flirtiness, I mean, it`s not out of the realm of possibility.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I`m not suggesting anything untoward. I`m not saying that there`s actual flirtation going on. I mean, that`s -- there`s been so many shockers in this case, nothing would shock me, but that would actually shock me.
Tony Lovitz (ph), you`re a psychologist. What do you make of the stone face that she had through most of the proceedings? And I`ll give you my take. I think she lives mostly in a fantasy world. That`s why she was able to make up these elaborate lies about she worked at Universal Studios and Zanny the nanny and all sorts of stories, all sorts of people.
I think when you`re living in that kind of interior life, the outside world doesn`t mean all that much.
TONY LOVITZ (PH), PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, I think she`s likely been coached to -- in terms of how she needs to present to the court. But I`m quite shocked that today she would show less than a serious and somber tone, that she did.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judge Jeanine Pirro, you have seen it all. What do you make of this woman that even the toughest interrogators and detectives who have seen it all can`t crack? This is a woman, apparently a very young woman, in her early 20s, that nobody can get to.
JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO, HOST, "THE JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO SHOW": Well, I think that what she`s done, irrespective of whether or not someone has coached her, is she has convinced herself that she has not killed Caylee, and she`s doing whatever she can to communicate that.
But I think that it`s kind of interesting. She was referred to as stoic. I think stoic is too high an adjective for her. I think that she is a woman who is a cold-hearted woman.
And I think that, if we`re going to say, "Gee, maybe they said something funny and therefore she smiled," when she saw pictures of her daughter`s decomposing body in that courtroom today, there should have been some emotion swinging the other way.
So I think this is a woman who is very calculating. We know that based upon the lies. I think it`s too easy to say that, you know, she`s living in a fantasy world. I think it`s just about evil. I think the woman knows that her daughter is dead. She shows no emotion.
Her attorney calls her "my girl," you know, flirts with her. And it is a flirtatious kind of smile. It`s not just a smile, you know, you or I might have of someone so something funny. It is very unusual. This woman is bizarre.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I think we can all agree on that.
Drew Findling, she had waived -- or her attorney said that she had waived her right to appear there. What are the rules, vis-a-vis waiver? These are pre-trial hearings. And one of the things they`re concerned about, they don`t want her to later fire all these attorneys, hire new ones, and say, "I never waived my right," and then that`s an appealable issue.
DREW FINDLING, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That`s exactly right. From an appellate standpoint, this is considered a critical stage of the proceedings. You know, we talked about on the show before, she`s just not been charged by the police. She`s indicted. She`s indicted right now. So this is a critical stage in the proceedings.
She may love the Baez law firm right now, but if she`s convicted, 10, 20, 30 years from right now, they don`t want a new set of lawyers coming in and saying, "We appreciated the waiver back in 2009, but she should have been there. She should have been an active part of the defense and, therefore, the case needs to be reversed.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. We`ve got a lot of calls coming in. Julia in Ohio, your question or thought.
CALLER: My question is, did Casey have any family members at either one of these appearances? And if they weren`t there to represent Casey, was there somebody there to stand up for Caylee besides the state of Florida?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Rozzie Franco, you were in court.
FRANCO: Right. I got to tell you, none of the family members showed up. And they probably didn`t show up, because they didn`t want the media attention, which has -- has been a completely 360. Because initially, Cindy and George were front and center in the media. Now they`re asking for immunity, and they`re nowhere to be found.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Ashleigh Banfield, wouldn`t you think she`d want to show up, given the fact she could spend the rest of her life in prison and also just to present a good front for the jury pool out there to try to show that she cares?
BANFIELD: Everybody is different. And O.J. Simpson didn`t want to show up for some of his minor appearances, et cetera. There are going to be a lot of these appearances, and they`re not all necessary. The defendant doesn`t always have to be present in court. What`s more important is what the attorney`s arguments are all about.
You know, it`s really up to the defendant, and it`s really up to how serious the issue is of the day. These were issues that, really, she had no -- she had no insight into regarding discovery process and that sort of thing. I don`t think it`s a big deal that either she was there or not, and I certainly don`t think it`s a big deal if her family was there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I think that we have to give the family a break. I mean, they`re obviously -- they haven`t even had the funeral for the granddaughter yet. The second autopsy has just been completed. We just learned that yesterday, as a matter of fact. And they`re laying low until this memorial. I totally understand why Cindy and George would decide not to show up.
BANFIELD: And there`s no jury present. So we`re not trying to impress anybody. You can`t impress a judge just by showing up all the time. Sometimes you can, but not all the time.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, there`s a jury pool out there that you might want to -- want to impress.
PIRRO: Jane, I`ve got to tell you, you know, I`ve been a prosecutor for many, many, many years. And for a victim`s family to not be at every court hearing is highly unusual.
Let`s not dance around this. The family doesn`t want to be there. It`s not about Caylee anymore. It`s about Casey and protecting themselves.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right.
PIRRO: Crime victims` families are always front and center.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Everybody hang tight. Don`t forget: Nancy Grace is up at 8 p.m. Eastern, immediately following this program. She will have the latest shocking twists in the case against Casey Anthony. And we`re dissecting that case, as well. So get on the phone and give me a holler: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297. Our expert panel will help us sort through all the details.
But first, the image of the day. Casey Anthony struggling to raise her cuffed right hand, as she was sworn in at today`s hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE STAN STRICKLAND, ORANGE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: Raise your right hand. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
CASEY ANTHONY, ACCUSED OF DAUGHTER`S MURDER: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JAN GARAVAGLIA, MEDICAL EXAMINER, ORANGE COUNTY, FLORIDA: The manner of death, though, is an opinion based on available information, including examination of the body, information from the scene, as well as circumstantial evidence. Based on all of this, the manner of death in this case is homicide. The cause of death will be listed as homicide by undetermined means.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was the Orange County Florida medical examiner announcing the manner of death of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony. Still so many questions. And that`s where you come in. Give me a shout-out with your questions or comments. That number, 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586- 7297. And the phone lines lighting up.
Maria in New Hampshire, give us your question or comment for our panel.
CALLER: Hi, Jane.
CALLER: Thanks for taking my call.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Thanks for calling.
CALLER: I`m just wondering if she confesses in private to her attorney, is she still obligated to defend her?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judge Jeanine, what do you make of it?
PIRRO: Well, you know what? The issue is everything between an attorney and a client is confidential. And there is no obligation on his part to report it.
The question is how much does he do at the trial? Would he put her on the stand? And if he did that, subornation of perjury if he knows it not to be true. But that will not for one minute stop a defense attorney from saying, "My job is to make sure that the Constitution is followed, that my client gets the fairest trial."
And many defense attorneys, in fact, know their clients are guilty. But go forward to make sure that justice is handled in the appropriate fashion.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Leon from California, your question or thought.
CALLER: Jane, as a retired police detective with 31 years of service, I have a real big problem with the meter reader`s story, because 999 out of 1,000 trash bags at the side of the road or a highway have trash in them and not bodies. I`d list him as a person of interest in this case, because he immediately called 911 instead of the sanitation department.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think you`re making an excellent observation, but I have to say that the authorities have said he is not a suspect, that he is a Good Samaritan with a good gut.
Rozzie Franco, the whole issue of everybody who was at this location well before the body was uncovered has become quite a controversy. The latest being not just the meter reader in the mid-August, but the two private investigators, Dominic Casey and Jim Hoover, in mid-November videotaping that scene a month before the remains were discovered there.
What`s the latest with those two?
FRANCO: Absolutely. I brought that point up when your prosecutor talked about the fact that the family was not in court, because they have been very supportive -- and it kind of struck a chord with me.
Dominic Casey recorded that particular area on the 14th and 15th of November. Now, that`s the claim of John Hoover, who has actually acquired an attorney right now. And that tape is actually in the Orange County sheriff`s office right now, being looked over.
But he claims at that time that he knew that Caylee`s remains was -- was in that area, but he couldn`t find them. He was on three separate cell phones. And those cell phones are being looked over right now.
But Dominic Casey was very close to George and Cindy at the time. They actually stayed in the Ritz Carlton whenever they were in hiding and those remains were found.
My problem with that is the fact that she`s -- her family is not showing up at these hearings. And now they`re asking for immunity. What does that actually mean?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I mean, let`s take a look at that, Drew Findling. And we`ve got to put the pieces together. I`m not saying that the Anthonys have done anything, but it is odd that they`re asking for immunity at the same time where one of their private investigators is accused of knowing where the remains were a month before. And not officially accused but accused by another P.I.
FINDLING: Well, let`s face it. Everybody is jockeying for position right now. But you know, we say that they`re asking for immunity. It`s really not them asking for immunity. It`s their attorney. And their attorney is stepping in and saying, "What do I need to do to take care of these people?"
And it`s an obvious thing, which is that I want to get them immunity. There`s no down side in doing it. So it`s really the attorney doing it, and he`s doing what any attorney would do, given the fact that the body was out there. Nobody knew it was, and then suddenly it was discovered while the family was trying to fund an attempted search for it. They`re not doing anything wrong.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Judge Pirro, you have seen so many of these cases. Do you think that it`s just coincidence that they`re asking for immunity at the very same time that there`s this controversy of whether their P.I. knew where the body was a month earlier?
PIRRO: No. And let me say, I have great respect for Drew, but Drew, here`s the bottom line. You`ve got a guy who`s an ex-guy who knows what the smell of a dead body is, and the mother is a nurse. The grandmother is a nurse.
Now, they then decide that what they`re going to do is circle the wagons when they realize that Caylee is not coming home. My concern is that at one point Cindy Anthony says to her husband, George, "It smelled like rotting pizza didn`t it, George?"
And he says, "Yes." And if you`ve got an ex-cop, Drew, why is he not looking for this baby? If you`ll remember at the beginning of the case...
PIRRO: They were looking for her, but what`s fascinating is that, even after November 15, when they videotaped that area, they were -- they were talking about sightings of a live Caylee. In fact, they flew to California right before these remains were found to check out a sighting in California of some child who looked like Caylee.
Hang -- hang on right there. We`ve got so much ground to cover. That`s food for thought. When we come back, what do you think of all of this? It`s fascinating. Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297 to talk to our expert panel.
Now here`s the judge, reading Casey Anthony`s indictment in October. Prior to today, it was the last time we saw her in court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE JOHN JORDAN, ORANGE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: An Orange County grand jury has issued an indictment, and a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) has been issued on the following charges: first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse, aggravated manslaughter of a child, and four counts providing false information to law enforcement. There is no bond on these charges.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDA DRANE BURDICK, PROSECUTOR: I do not want a circumstance where these photographs, inadvertently or intentionally are, you know, displayed on some magazine at the check-out of the public.
JOSE BAEZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: These are not just people we pulled out of thin air. These are -- these are the foremost experts in their field who I do not believe would jeopardize their reputation over selling something to "The National Enquirer."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was Casey Anthony`s defense attorney, arguing with prosecutors over three disks containing images of Caylee`s remains and x-rays. Prosecutors saying, "Hey, if we give them to the defense with no restrictions, they could end up in the tabloids." The defense saying nonsense.
The judge finally said, "Hey, we`re going to put them on a secure Web site and give the people who need to know passwords. The experts, investigators, and that`s how we`re going to try to keep them from the media." We`ll see if that works. OK. Phone lines lighting up. Michelle in Canada, your question or thought for our panel.
CALLER: Hi, there. I just wanted to know if there was a relationship between the lawyer, between her and her lawyer, could she in the end, if she`s guilty, say that she wants a new trial or representation?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, first of all, we have to point out, Ashleigh Banfield, nobody is suggesting that. We were suggesting that perhaps they looked at each other a certain way. But nobody is making any kind of suggestions whatsoever that they are involved or anything like that. But what about that question?
BANFIELD: You know what? There is ineffective assistance of counsel. And I have already covered a case in the last year and a half whereby a woman who was convicted of murder and put away for the rest of her life without the possibility of parole actually brought that forth. Her attorney fell on the sword for her, and that conviction was ultimately vacated for other reasons, as well.
So if that happens, absolutely. Yes. That would be -- that would be grounds. But -- but there are all sorts of other grounds that can be exercised for ineffective assistance of counsel. I highly doubt, with the spotlight that is on this case, that anyone, let alone Jose Baez, would be that foolish.
FINDLING: This guy says -- this guy makes a reference to "my girl," and she smiles and...
BANFIELD: I say "my guy" all the time, though. I say, "I got to go get my guy."
FINDLING: I just don`t think -- you have a lawyer that, no matter what you believe about what Casey Anthony did or did not do, is dedicated to this case and has immersed himself on the defense of this case. And -- and to even question his ethics, to question his morality and his dedication and raise ineffective assistance at this early stage is really sad. Because this guy is giving it his all. Believe me.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, that`s for sure. Paul in Virginia, your question or thought, sir?
CALLER: Yes. I was just wondering why the grandparents or the grandparents` lawyers are asking for immunity if the whole time they weren`t holding -- withholding evidence or information on the case. Why are they asking for immunity?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I think we covered that to a certain degree. And the answer was that, essentially, the lawyer for the Anthony families is just doing everything they can to protect them. But, Judge Jeanine Pirro, your thoughts on this, why they would ask for immunity?
PIRRO: Very quickly. I mean, there are two reasons. One, procedural because they`re afraid something might incriminate them. And two, maybe they did something. At the end of the day it is the smart move, but I think that the facts as we know them, you know, suggest that they knew a little more than they`ve let on.
BANFIELD: Jane, let me jump in here with something that I think might have shed some light on where the Anthonys stand in all this today. And that is that they, according to at least one report, were the driving force behind asking the state attorney to put some restrictions on the defense team with regard to the use of these photos. Imagine them doing that at the cost of their own daughter`s defense.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK. Good point.
FINDLING: Can I just in here please, Jane?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Hang in there. One second, we`ll be right back, and we`ll sort through all of the shocking developments today. Give me a call with your questions.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A stunning development in the Caylee Anthony investigation. Her accused mother, Casey, hauled into court by the judge.
And her defense wins a small victory that could have much larger implications. Should Casey have been forced to testify on camera in a defamation suit?
And gruesome details emerge in the murder of an Ohio mom investigators believe died fighting ferociously to protect her son from a sexual predator police say was assaulting him. What happened would affect any person for the rest of their lives. So how can a 4-year-old recover from this? We`ll take your calls.
That story, almost too horrific to believe. I will have the details in just a bit.
But first, still much more to discuss in the Casey Anthony case. I`m back with Ashleigh Banfield, from "In Session" Drew Findling, a criminal defense attorney, Judge Janine Pirro, Tony Levitas, a psychologist, as well as Rozzie Franco from WFLA radio.
We`ve been talking about the grandparents, why didn`t they show up in court, why are they asking for immunity? I don`t want to beat up on them, Tony, but I think that, unfortunately, these are questions we have to address.
TONY LEVITAS, CHILD & FAMILY PYSCHOLOGIST: Well, sure. I`d like to say in defense of them, number one, what parent wants to admit that their child is capable of such a monstrous act? And, two, these grandparents have also sustained the trauma which likely has created some shock for them and certainly some denial.
ROZZIE FRANCO, WFLA RADIO: On that point, George Anthony actually said in the transcript that he did not want to believe that Casey Anthony was capable of doing that. But he also realized that what was in the back of that car, he was very familiar with that smell.
So, you know, he`s also been seen as supporting Casey. So why wouldn`t he support her now?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. I mean, you have to certainly give these folks a break. They have been through unimaginable hell; lost a granddaughter. We`ve gone through it all. We have to wait and see what happens. I certainly don`t think we should in anyway cast aspersions.
I want to talk about what happened in court today. Because I didn`t really buy, Judge Janine, the whole argument that the prosecutors made that, oh, these photos are going to end up in the tabloids.
First of all, the defense has already done their second autopsy and they took photos in that process. If they wanted to sell photos to the tabloids, they could just sell those photos.
JUDGE JANINE PIRRO: I think the judge is just trying to be as cautious as possible. And the truth is Jane, you make a very good point. It`s quite possible that this stuff could already be sold based upon the second autopsy.
But at the end of the day, I think the judge has an obligation to do whatever he can to make sure that there is a secure computer or some secure situation where maybe a secretary or a clerk or somebody doesn`t leak that information.
But it`s true, Jane. The judge could have gone either way on this.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": And you know something, Jane, I`ll tell you, I was a little surprised because so far up into this point, the prosecution has had free reign to send material out of state. This was a request they were making. They didn`t want the defense to send anything out of the state, but the prosecution has already sent things to Quantico in Virginia and to a special lab in Indiana.
So they`ve sort of asked for special status, it would seem, in this regard. Being that they`ve done what they`re asking the defense not to do.
DREW FINDLING, ATLANTA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And not only that - - I find it ironic because we`re dealing with the state of Florida, who because of their laws, is throwing out tapes of private conversations between parents and their daughter in a jail. And I think it`s the pot calling the kettle black all of a sudden to say, hey, you`ve got private conversations. We`re going to make them part of the daily news, but you can`t --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But they`re not private conversations --
FINDLING: Well, I understand that, but these are discoverable items. In the sense of a lack of trust, this implicit lack of trust for the defense is really one-sided.
PIRRO: At the end of the day, there`s a lot on the line here. We don`t know if there`s a chain of custody issue when the prosecution sent it out of state. We don`t know that.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I would say there`s no love lost between these two sides at all. You can see that in court. With this insults whenever they can weave them in. But I have to say that what I find fascinating is that this could be a boomerang effect.
In other words, the more the prosecution talks about these photos actually they`re driving the price up. And Ashley, we`re both in the media. I don`t even know that I would see these -- even in a tabloid -- skeletal remains of the child? Maybe overseas, in some far-off tabloids but I can`t imagine anybody taking photos that they don`t own --
BANFIELD: I don`t know about that.
BANFIELD: But I`ve got to be honest I think the media has changed a lot in the last ten years. There are a lot more outlets now. There a lot more Internet outlets now, and also these remains are not gruesome.
They are disturbing, but they are not gruesome. There`s no flesh. There`s nothing like that. So I think that they would be fascinating to some. And I think there is a market out there.
And I think sadly this is what the court having to deal with, with the incredible spotlight on this case right now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Jay in New York, your question, ma`am.
JAY, NEW YORK: Hi, my question is if they can prove that Lee or Cindy or George were aware of her death prior to finding the body and they continued to use the money that was donated, is that considered fraud?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. What do you think, Drew?
FINDLING: That would be problematic. I mean, if they had started accepting donations with one goal in mind and that is to use that to locate the body when they knew where they were, they would have some problems.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, let`s ask some questions about this other controversy today vis-a-vis Zenaida Gonzales. She`s suing Casey Anthony for defamation, saying she ruined her life when she said Zanny the nanny, Zenaida Gonzales, abducted her child.
She wanted to do an on-camera deposition in jail of Casey. The judge said no, not now. You can ask again later. But basically, you can submit written questions, which I guess is called a written interrogatory.
Judge Pirro, I`m just baffled by this. Does that have any value whatsoever? I mean, can`t she just write down, I don`t recall, to each question?
PIRRO: Of course she can. And at the end of the day, the question is why are we even going forward with this civil case when there`s so much at stake? She can claim the Fifth Amendment; she can say it`s going to incriminate her. She can sit down with a lawyer and work out the defense and the criminal case, you know, for now to respond to the civil case.
But, you know, she can`t have it both ways. On the one hand, she`s saying I don`t want to be involved in any kind of video, oral communication, but I`ll write something out. It`s no problem. I`ll do that.
And yet on the other hand say I`m countersuing Zenaida Gonzales because she`s trying to profit off of this and say I don`t want to talk, but I want to sue her. You can`t have it both ways.
BANFIELD: If she were smart, she would drop her counter suit and then reapply to not have to actually be deposed even in an interrogatory. She should drop the counter suit and then revisit this whole idea.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right, Cindy in Virginia, question or thought, ma`am.
CINDY IN VIRGINIA: Yes hi, Jane.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: How are you doing?
CINDY: I`m doing good. And you?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m doing great. As soon as I hear your question, I`ll be doing even better.
CINDY: Ok, I would like to know, can the death penalty be brought back up on the table for Casey with aggravating factors just along with the duct tape?
VELEZ-MITCELL: Ok, Judge Janine, what do you make of it?
SPIRO: Look, when I was DA, I mean that was an issue that was always on the table, whether or not we would seek death -- and your caller is correct -- aggravating circumstances like duct tape on the mouth of a child who may have been chloroformed for whatever reason is enough to bring it up to that level.
But the prosecution I believe has said in the first place they weren`t going for it and in the second place after they found the body, they were not going for the death penalty.
I can`t imagine that there are any additional aggravating factors that they would find out before trial which would bring them to that point.
BANFIELD: And, and it also is a huge risk. And I hate to say this, but when you have a pretty girl sitting at the defense table and you`ve got 12 jurors who have to decide on her life and death, you as the prosecutor take a huge risk asking for that giant ring.
And you`re probably better off not to go that far, especially with the tragedies all around in this circumstance. Those Anthony parents are not only victims` families, but they`re defendant family members.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Absolutely, Rozzie Franco, there were other rulings today in which the defense got a lot of stuff, access to the hair and to various other pieces of evidence.
And what about the trial date? Do we know when this is actually going to go to trial?
FRANCO: This is expected to go to trial around the middle of March. Do I think it`s going to go to trial in the middle of March? No.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: No way.
FRANCO: But that`s when it`s actually scheduled.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: But I thought they said today in court that there was no trial date scheduled because actually Jose Baez said we`re scheduled to go to trial in the middle of March and the prosecutor said, no, we`re not where did you get that. It`s part of their little tit for tat.
FRANCO: Sure, sure, but no, it has been scheduled for the middle of March. And like I said, it`s not going to happen.
PIRRO: It`s probably a determination of readiness to put together a more specific date.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I would think with all of this information pouring in, Drew Findling, it will probably be late summer before this actually goes to trial.
FINDLING: Well, so much is going to be affected by the scientific evidence issue. I mean, that`s what`s going to take the longest period of time for both defense and the state to have properly tested.
And that`s why the more they fight about this issue and the paranoia that the state has that the secretaries of the defense team is less trustworthy than theirs, the longer it`s going to take. They`ve got to resolve this scientific issues and they`ll go quicker.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Got to leave it right there. And what a fantastic panel, Ashleigh, Drew, Judge Janine, Rozzie, Tony thank you so very much for your insights. Please come back soon.
And don`t forget, Nancy Grace up at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, immediately following this program. She will have the latest shocking twists in the case against Casey Anthony. Don`t miss it.
An Ohio woman killed after trying to save her four-year-old son from an alleged child molester. You won`t believe what the sick suspect had to say. It`s a mind-blower. Call 1-877-JVM-SAYS; 1-877-586-7297 to sound off on this absolutely appalling case, next.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: A woman murdered after trying to save her 4-year-old son from an accused child molester. I will be taking your calls on this truly horrific case in just a bit.
But first, "Top of the Block" tonight.
An update on the murder of beautiful graduate student Imette St. Guillen. Back in 2006, St. Guillen was raped and then strangled to death after leaving a New York City bar. Darryl Littlejohn, a bouncer at the bar, is the primary suspect.
Yesterday Littlejohn was sentenced to life in prison. That sentence was for a different crime, however. He will be doing time for trying to kidnap a different female college student in 2005. He posed as a cop and tried to force the woman into his van, but amazingly she escaped.
The prosecutors say Imette St. Guillen was not so lucky, the St. Guillen family, waiting to close this tragic chapter of their lives. For now, they can only rejoice that this creep will be rotting behind bars as he awaits justice in the St. Guillen case.
And now to another story so totally twisted, it will make your jaw drop in horror. Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Myers is accused of molesting a 4-year-old boy after tying up his mother so that she was helpless during the child`s assault.
But the courageous mom somehow broke free and tried to save her child. That, say police, is when Myers shot her twice in the stomach, leaving her to die. The cruelty did not end there. Myers abducted the toddler and later dumped him at a rest stop. Thankfully a kind-hearted couple spotted him and alerted authorities.
And now for an even bigger shocker, Myers is apologizing. Take a listen to this suspect who is, by the way, hard of hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLIE MYERS, MURDER SUSPECT: I just want to say I`m sorry for this crime. It`s my first time I`ve ever had in my whole life. I`m 22 years old and I`ve never had a gun in my whole life. But I made a mistake and I apologize to the family. One thing -- [ inaudible ] I took the child because I wanted to make sure the child stayed away from the parent because the parent had passed away and I dropped him of on the rest area. My fault. I apologize for the victim and I had a lot of mistakes and I have to go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: There are some crimes for which an apology can never be enough. Myers now faces a 20 felony counts including aggravated murder, kidnapping and sexual assault; prosecutors now deciding whether or not to seek the death penalty.
Also at hand, the question of how this innocent little boy will ever, ever be able to recover from such a traumatic event.
Joining me now: Denise Alex, anchor and reporter with Ohio News Network; Tony Levitas, child and family psychologist and Wendy Murphy, a former prosecutor and author of "And Justice for Some."
And by the way, we are not mentioning the name of the victims` family to give them privacy as they try to get their lives back together.
Wendy, I`m going to start with you. This story makes me sick to my stomach. You know, you think you`ve heard every nauseating crime imaginable and then some sicko comes along and does something even twice as twisted.
Do you interpret what he said at his apology as a confession? Because he has not entered a plea, to my knowledge.
WENDY MURPHY, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Well, yes. I would offer it as a confession as a prosecutor and I`d let the jury figure out what they feel about it, and I`d like to laugh as the defense attorney tries to argue it`s not really a confession. Oh, please.
What I want to know how you mistakenly rape a 4-year-old, how do you mistakenly execute his mother with a gun? He didn`t just say I`m sorry. He said what I did was a mistake. This guy is literally scraped from the bottom of the barrel of criminals as I see him.
And I`ve handled a lot of these cases Jane over the past 20 years. What mother wouldn`t give her life to save her 4-year-old child from being raped by an animal?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I don`t want to call him an animal. Animals don`t do this kind of things. Let`s not put animals down.
MURPHY: That`s right, animals are better. But you know what, memo to all the moms out there. God forbid this should ever happen to you and your kid, but if it does, before you run after the guy, grab a knife or a gun and beat him to the punch.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you know, I think this mother really was courageous in so many ways, Denise Alex. You`re a reporter covering this story. Didn`t she actually train her son to memorize his address, memorize his phone number, and this boy had the wits about him after all of this to give a description to authorities of the suspect.
DENICE ALEX, OHIO NEWS NETWORK: Yes. And police say what that little boy told them led them right to his mother. It was about an hour and half, two hours after that murder that police we`re able to get to the scene and find the victim there in her home, shot -- two gunshot wounds to the abdomen, police are telling us.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And apparently the cell phone is what led them to this guy. Tell us about that.
ALEX: Yes. It`s pretty bizarre. Actually, he stole a computer, some items from the home including two cell phones. What police are telling us, that he used one of the victim`s cell phones to call his cell phone and that`s how they connected him to this crime.
This slew of crimes; 20 charges that he`s now facing.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know, cell phones are becoming an incredible tool of investigators to catch criminals. It is truly amazing. Every single case, it seems cell phones play a role.
Listen to the prosecutor describe these tragic events.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON O`BRIEN, FRANKLIN COUNTY PROSECUTOR: He has alleged that prior to the homicide that there was a gross sexual imposition involving the young boy.
I understand the mother was tied up and I understand the mother was attempting to rescue the young child from assaultive conduct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Tony Levitas, how difficult will it be for this young child to recover not only from the molestations but witnessing his own mother`s death?
LEVITAS: Well, this young boy is likely to have significant scars for a long time. He`s going to need a lot of help. The good news is that people do recover from this kind of trauma. And we`ve got to believe in the resiliency of the human spirit.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I have to say this. And I know Wendy is going to just flip her lid. But I want to talk about the fact that this suspect -- because we want to reach the bigger issues. We want to understand the bigger societal issues in here so that we can prevent it from happening again.
We lock these people up all the time and then as I said just a minute ago, somebody comes along and does something worse.
This suspect, okay, had a very troubled childhood. He was abandoned to child care agencies. He had a parent who did not contribute to his support or care. He has a hearing impairment that apparently caused him frustration and brothers who were, quote, subjected to unspeakable abuses at the hands of their parents according to an earlier court document.
MURPHY: You know, Jane, come on, for god`s sake, you know how many women are raped and brutalized and are victims of domestic violence. You`ve done heroic work on your show. Guess what? They don`t then rape, beat and abuse children or other human beings. What is it then that makes us feel so sympathetic and please, spare me the "I am deaf" excuse.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I am not sympathetic. I just want to understand to stop it from happening again. Hold that thought. Much more to cover in this truly disturbing crime. We have many more questions and more details to bring you in just a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLIE MYERS, MURDER SUSPECT: I just want to say sorry for the crime, but this is my first time I ever had in my whole life. I`m 22 years old. And I never had a gun in my whole life, I made a mistake and I apologize to the family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Unbelievable case. Denise Alex (ph), you`ve covered the story. Correct me if I`m wrong because the facts are just too astounding. He stole the family car, allegedly earlier before Christmas and then got a cell phone and a wallet. Saw in the cell phone there was a photo of a young boy so he goes to this house with the intention, according to authorities, of sexually abusing this young boy and even bring sex toys with him.
DENISE ALEX, OHIO NEWS NETWORK: That`s right. And Jane, it was an hour drive. It was from one city to a whole another city, a whole another county. We obtained a copy of the search warrant that was executed at his home. Some of the things that they found in his home included a vibrator and bloody underwear. We`re not sure who the underwear belongs to, if it was the little boy or Charlie Myers.
We also dug a little bit into his background. We found that he had prenatal exposure to alcohol and drugs and his mom also died of a drug- related died. Not that this excuses any of his behavior, but that`s part of his past that investigators are dealing with.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Wendy I`m not trying to excuse his behavior at all. I want him thrown in the clinker forever. I am not talking about leniency, I`m talking about let`s understand the factors that lead up and maybe we can deal with like -- alcohol syndrome, infant alcohol syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome.
That is -- when you go back and look at the history of all these criminals, the one who is accused of killing Imette St. Guillen, you always come up with severe dysfunction in their childhood, going to jail early. We have to as a society look at this.
MURPHY: Fair enough, Jane. I`m not going to disagree with you that the most horrific people in society usually had a bad childhood, but what I`m saying is I don`t care. It`s too late, okay? Whether he`s sick or just evil, he can`t live in free society. Now, should we do --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Of course not.
MURPHY: Should we do a better job identifying those red flags and risk factors? Absolutely.
Let`s talk about that in a different case at another time and not waste our breath on this guy. That`s my problem.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You know what? The trouble is we never get to that discussion of prevention because we`re always talking about the next killer. And I`m just saying that as a society we need to refocus and shift how we deal with this. Instead of dealing with the personalities, we also, along with locking them up need to deal with the underlying societal issues and address them.
MURPHY: As long as he doesn`t get a pass.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that`s all the more reason --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Thank you so much for joining us. This was a fascinating conversation.
I am Jane Velez-Mitchell and you are watching "ISSUES" on HLN.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Prosecutors must now confront what for many wouldn`t be a very tough decision. Should 22-year-old Charlie Myers face the death penalty for the alleged sexual assault of a four-year-old boy and the murder of that young boy`s mom? I will keep you up-to-date with the very latest on "ISSUES."
Right now it`s time to check in with Nancy Grace. Nancy, what`s coming up?
NANCY GRACE, ANCHOR, "NANCY GRACE SHOW: Jane, a bombshell tonight in the Caylee Anthony investigation. Tot mom, Casey Anthony ordered shackled and dragged to court today. Once she`s there, she`s cool as a cucumber and issues the possible sale of photos of little Caylee`s remains. The court hears multiple motions moving the case this much closer to trial on charges of murder one. Jane, we`re live in Orlando.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It is a shocker, thank you, Nancy.
"Nancy Grace" starts right now.